Thursday, March 22, 2018

Raising Children in a Social Media World

Technology. Technology and children. Pornography. Social Media. Screen Time. Face to Face Interactions. 

Buzz Words. 

Important buzz words. I cannot begin to number the conversations I have had with friends and family over the past several years about raising children/family life in the modern, technological world. I have sat stewing on FaceTime with siblings and friends discussing and re-discussing HOW, WHEN, WHAT & WHICH. How do you raise a kid amidst all the screens? How do you help them develop a confident self image, a healthy self image? How do you avoid online bullying? When is the right age to give a kid a phone? What type of phone? Which apps are best to set parental locks? Or in other words, what technology best helps parents shield their children from technology? (A bit ironic...) What are appropriate screen time limits? Should teenagers have phones at night or should they be kept in a parent's room?

The questions are endless. I could go on forever. 

Colin Kartchner is a social media celeb. I am not sure what for, but I do know that he is a big influencer, especially among the LDS community. He seems like a great guy, don't get me wrong. He has had a couple big movements recently that have "gone viral" so to say. The first was about authenticity in our social media accounts (reality vs. curation) and the second was about social media use and teenagers. He shared pictures of rather chilling index cards. A teacher in Utah asked the kids in her class to anonymously finish the sentence "What my parents don't know about social media is..." The results were shocking. And scary. And persuasive. Colin's movement now is #BringBackTheFlipPhone or something to that effect. A good guy, trying to find a solution to a tough issue, in the best way he can. 

His post brought back all those questions of how, when, what and which. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO TO SHIELD MY LITTLE SWEET INNOCENT EZRA FROM THE WAYS OF THE WORLD AND ALL THINGS EVIL!? (Sorry to shout.) 

Today, I found the solution or at least a part of it.  

I should start first by saying that, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Morm, yall) I believe in modern revelation. That means, I believe in a living prophet, like Biblical prophets (think Moses, Isaiah, etc), who receive inspiration from God. You might've just thought "Psh, that's weird...and like impossible, right?" but then you stop and think "Wait, but if that's real, that's like the greatest news of all time..." BECAUSE IT IS. But, I digress. Get back to me if you want to know more. 

Anyway, living prophets and apostles. I believe that the apostles and prophets who lead our Church are inspired of God. I believe what they teach us is the BEST way. They are more than just wonderful, educated, hard working men--though they are also those things. They are, or at least should be, if I can make a very cheesy social-media-related pun: the best influencers. Sorry Colin Kartchner. 

Elder M. Russell Ballard says this: 

"A family council, when conducted with love and with Christlike attributes, will counter the impact of modern technology that often distracts us from spending quality time with each other and also tends to bring evil right into our homes." 

Mic drop. It is a paragraph from his talk "Family Councils" that is easily overlooked. It is not a final paragraph. There is not a big lead up to it. It is just kind of there in the middle.

"...there was a time when the walls of our homes provided all the defense we needed against outside intrusions and influences. We locked the doors, closed the windows; we shut the gates; and we felt safe, secure, and protected in our own little refuge from the outside world.
Those days are now gone. The physical walls, doors, fences, and gates of our homes cannot prevent unseen invasion from the Internet, the Wi-Fi, the mobile phones, the networks. They can penetrate our homes with just a few clicks and keystrokes.
Fortunately, the Lord has provided a way to counter the invasion of negative technology that can distract us from spending quality time with each other. He has done this by providing the council system to strengthen, protect, safeguard, and nurture our most precious relationships."

But what. a. promise. Family councils. Read the whole talk, here:

Friday, February 16, 2018


Ezra is:

thoughtful (thinks things through)

Ezra isn't:

a performer

Ezra thinks:

hand holding is against his natural human rights to freedom
snow is fascinating
everyone is a friend
smiling is reserved for only those he really cares about and snapchat filters

Ezra is currently improving/learning:

hair pulling shenanigans
that we can bang our hands on tables and toys but not other people
clapping abilities
sleeping (getting better each month)
his listening

Ezra loves:

being outside
animal crackers
"Cake" by 99 Percent and Flo Rida
watching other kids
cuddling his mama
blankets, towels, any type of fabric, clothes, socks (these are his favorite toys)
putting things around his neck

Ezra dislikes:

getting jammies on after bath time
growing teeth
being barricaded from the kitchen
holding hands

Ezra knows how to:

sign--more, please, prayer, all done/milk (uses the same sign for these), and  eat
be "sooooo big"
spin in circles
run in place
give kisses
give high fives
identify ojos and Jesus
say "hot" (but only when he gets close to the baseboard heater he is not supposed to touch)
say "Jesus" (ssseh-ssseh)

Ezra has:

two teeth
a dimple in his chin
deep blue eyes
our hearts, forever.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Spirituality and Motherood

The last several months I have felt spiritually lacking. It did not seem I was having the same spiritual connections and moments that I had had before having Ezra. I was still reading my scriptures. I was still praying. I was still attending the temple (albeit, not as frequently, because #kids). I was still taking the sacrament. I was still trying to serve. But, something was different.

For one of my classes this semester, each week we have to do a "sharpening the saw" activity. Those who have read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People will know what that means. We have to choose a different category: spiritual, physical, mental, etc. and spent 45 minutes sharpening our saw outside of our normal activities. This week, I chose spiritual. 

My "sharpen the saw" lead me to watching Bible Videos. I chose to watch the "Act of the Apostles." Since I was blessed, several years ago now, to participate in the filming of these videos, they have a special place in my heart. I remember what it felt like to have Peter preach, with tears in his eyes, as he looked into my own (even if he was just an actor.) I remember what it felt like when the man playing Christ walked onto set for the first time. I knew it wasn't real, but you could've fooled my spirit--it FELT real. These feelings resurface each time I watch these videos. I watched the video Stephan's Martyrdom. The last line of the video (Acts 7:60) "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge..." touched my heart. It was powerful; the forgiveness astounding. I felt that deep connection, that spiritual moment, that I thought I had been missing. 

In that moment, the Spirit taught me something: those moment had never left me. They are just different now. 

Before having Ezra, I found moments of spirituality in scripture study, prayer, bible videos, etc. I still find them there, but these activities are so often punctuated by needing to wipe some sort of baby body part. They are interrupted by a cry or a book being dropped at my feet. They are paused to cut up another few bites of chicken and add another spoonful of peas to a highchair tray.

Now they are different. I have those moments of spirituality as I rock my baby to sleep and experience the love of Heavenly Parents through the love I feel for him. I have them as I whisper in Ezra's ear what is happening and why as we take the sacrament in Church. I have them as a friend watches my baby so I can grab laundry from the laundromat and I am reminded of people's goodness. I have them as I watch my husband comfort our son who just fell down and feel gratitude for his gentleness. 

I have them. Every day. They are different, but they are just as significant. 

Maybe, they are the most significant.  

Friday, January 19, 2018

11 Months

-First Christmas
-First New Year
-walking becomes preferred method of transportation
-cut his first tooth!
-loves things that shake and rattle
-started to LOVE reading books
-throws his head back and scrunches his face dramatically when he fake cries
-is most happy when surrounded by people
-almost weaned from nursing
-can do "So big!"

Ezra's first Christmas was so much fun. Holidays are BETTER with children--no ifs, ands, or buts about it! When Ezra woke up in the morning, we directed him towards his stocking. He sat in front of it happily as I pointed to the different textured balls Santa had filled his stocking with. He played with each one for a handful of seconds before moving onto the next. Grandma and Grandpa Brown were here with us. Ezra was so happy to play in the wrapping paper, boxes, and with all his new toys. He sat and read new books with us as they were opened and played with each new toy (three different sets of balls!)

He started teething the week of Christmas. He wanted to be rocked to sleep every nap/bedtime. I was okay with it...for the most part ;) 

Having in-laws in town for several days (Melody and Braxton were also here :) ) meant Ezra got a lot of encouragement in the walking department. On Christmas day, he decided he should just start walking all around. It is so cute to see his tiny body titter-tottering about.

One of the biggest changes this month was Ezra's attention span when it came to reading. This morning (1/4) we sat and read books for over 20 minutes. That's a long time for a not even one year old to sit still and not do anything but turn pages. He does love to turn pages, though! So far, snacks and whispering books quietly in his ear are the only things that keep him still in church.

Several times a day, he totters over to the books shelf and pulls a book (or 12) off the shelf. If I am close by, he will carry it to me and drop it by my feet. He has not yet figured out how to just hand people things, yet. He crawls into my lap, on the ground, and we read a story. Then he stands up, pulls another off the shelf, drops it in front of me, and crawls back into my lap. We start the process over again...and again...and again. Each morning we spend about a half hour reading all the books board books we own (which is only about 15 books).  I often wonder how long he would sit and read if we had endless numbers of books. Luckily we have his whole life to add to our collection!

Genius moment: Ezra is left hand dominant in most things. When reading a book, he turns the pages with his left hand. BUT, when looking at a book backwards, he turns the pages with his right hand. He will switch from left to right with the same page depending on whether he wants to turn it forward or backward. I feel like that means something!!! (*crazy first time parent who thinks their child is a genius smile*) 

This month was a little harder for me in the parenting department while Ezra has been teething. Before this month, any ailment he had I could easily alleviate with a snuggle, hug, snack, etc. It made me feel like Ezra and I just GOT each other. I always knew what he needed. But, when I couldn't help him this month, it left me feeling distant from my sweet baby--like he didn't like me anymore! So, I officially declare teething to be THE WORST. It made my heart so happy when he woke up one morning and was magically back to his normal. It really felt like magic. And by magic, I mean, it felt like a huge blessing from Heavenly Father to this mama who needed some lovin from her tiniest babe.  

It snowed a lot this month. We stayed inside a lot this month. When it finally got warm enough (i.e. it was above 20 degrees haha) we ventured outside and Ezra was so excited to walk around. The first time the snow melted, he sat in a pile of wet soggy leaves and played like he had found treasure. Yesterday while we were waiting for Kyle, I pulled him out of his carseat and let him walk around the sidewalk. He would walk to one side and then stop at the snow and just stare at it for 30-45 seconds, then walk to the other side of the side walk and repeat the snow staring. A great example of his being observant and taking in his surroundings before he makes a choice of what to do. He walked back and forth staring at the snow, for about 10 minutes, before he decided to reach down and touch it. 

I heard Kyle in the bathroom saying "Hi baby!"over and over again. I walked in to find this scene: Ezra finding Kyle in the reflection of the shower....thing? (what is this?)

Friday, December 15, 2017

Double Digits

-getting more confident with walking
-crawling around now (one foot, one knee)
-likes to pull ALL items off ALL shelves
-broke out the "big kid" stroller
-learned how to open and close doors, turn pages, open drawers, etc.
-went down to one nap a day (and sometimes a second one, in the car)
-saw Santa for the first time!
-celebrated his first Thanksgiving :)
-loves being tickled
-^ most ticklish are his feet and neck/collarbone/shoulder area
-singing calms him down
-likes to sit in your lap and bounce on the exercise ball
-so happy, giggly, and interactive these days

When the Santa you see is free, you get no pretty winter wonderland backdrop. 

Little brother started to walk at 9 months! He started with just a few tentative steps between Kyle and I--and then would just trust fall into us. Don't worry, we caught him. He can now walk wherever he wants. He has walked the length of the living room, from the bedroom to the living room, etc. But, he is still cautious. Reckless abandon and thrill seeking just are not a part of who Ezra is. He tends to only walk when there is someone there he can walk to/can be close in case he gets scared walking to an item of furniture. Since he started to walk and figured out crawling in the same week, more or less, he defers to crawling more often than not. We are fine with that. We are not in a rush with the walking thing--church is already getting harder week by week!

In his personal heaven--a stuffed animal bin at Walmart. He lost one of his little booties later in the store :( 


One thing I don't want to forget about this age is that he hasn't learned how to run away, but still likes to be "chased." I'll say "Im gonna get you" in a monster voice and he turns away from me, and then turns back and lunges towards me, and then brings his hands to cover his face and then hunches his shoulder into a little ball in this flurry of pure joy and giggles. He gets so excited to play this game, even though he doesn't understand it yet. He just loves the pure unadulterated attention interactions like this bring.

He does this singular note laugh all day, every time anyone talks to him and it is the cutest thing. It is just one little laugh-note, not a full blown giggle. It's the greatest. Kyle will bring him out of his crib in the morning and say "Look! It's Ma!" *laugh note* I'll be making dinner and look over at him and say "Hi!" *laugh note* Kyle will smile at him from the stand during church *laugh note* You squeak a toy *laugh note*

First Christmas tree as a family of tres

A little narcissistic; he really likes looking at his reflection in the oven door. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Nine Months

Weight: 18 lbs (15th percentile)
Height: 29 inches (51th percentile)
Diaper: Size 3
Clothes:6-9 months, 9 months

Developmental Milestones:
-stands on all of the things 
-pulls himself to standing
-goes from sitting to hands and knees and back to sitting
-realized he could roll over in his crib
-^stomach sleeps now, occasionally
-scoots all around, army crawl style
-has taken a few balanced, unassisted steps
-can bring himself from laying down to sitting up
-walks around with assistance from his walker toy
-went from three naps to two

-gives kisses!
-started to squint his eyes, scrunch his nose and stick out his tongue when he smiles
-mimics our vocal patterns
-continued improvement feeding himself
-excited, crazy face and noise

-smiles at everyone, much more social this month
-likes to show off (but on his own terms)
-loves to play in the closet and in the bathroom
-enjoys picking at all types of carpet, fuzziness, cloth and fur (with one finger only, of course)
-likes dad's baseball hats
-continues to wiggle his life away
-wants mama all the day long

-eating any and everything 
-any type of meat
-puffs and dehydrated yogurt drops
-stuffed animals
-playing with shoes
-squeaky toys (thinks they are hilarious)
-any mounted wall picture
-animal noises 
-the binky
-his fuzzy blankie

-plain pasta noodles and hummus
-being alone
-falling down
-feeling forced to do something (will refuse if pressured) 
-hats being put on his head
-being laid down to have his diaper or clothes changed right after you pick him up from a nap
-when you leave the room while he's watching
-missing his morning nap

-first, very lame, pumpkin patch experience 
-first Halloween!
-first time watching Dad in a college basketball game*
-first "owie" (rug burn on his forehead after falling down)

I have tried to write down just all the things I can about Ezra each month, but I can't ever seem to get it all down. He is SO FUN AND SO CUTE. I just want everyone to spend a whole day with him so they can get the full measure of his personality. A very favorite thing about him is that when he gets excited, it is like his body can't contain it. He shrugs his shoulders up and extends his arms straight. He clenches his fists as tight as he can. Then, he cocks his little head to the side and holds his breath while making the cutest, funniest "crazy face" and exhaling this snort noise. He started doing it when he would eat solids a couple months back, but this month it has leaked over into other activities as well. Apparently, there is just so much more to get excited about at 9 months of life than there was previously.

Auntie Mel and Uncle Braxton's wedding!

Ezra dropped a nap this month, but it has been a great transition, actually! He had been napping three times a day for an hour-hour and a half each nap. Now, he naps from about 10-12/1 in the morning and then another shorter nap at about 3. Having a two or three hour chunk of time has been great for both of us. He is happier and I am able to get more done with school. 

Kyle and I moved our bed out into the dining room, as an official "resting place" (ha) for us. Ezra sleeps SO MUCH BETTER when we aren't in the room with him. Since our apartment only has one bedroom, the dining room it is! He is still waking up once a night to nurse, but goes back to sleep immediately. Right now his schedule is: bedtime 630-7pm, sleep until 3/4am, nurse, back to sleep until around 7-730 ish. Then nursing and morning cuddles in the bed of course. I'LL TAKE IT!! Plus, if I'm being honest, most mornings also involve me going back to the bedroom and sleeping for another hour on the recliner while Kyle feeds Ezra breakfast. What a good husband I have. 

Cruel experience has taught me that this nice groove we've found will change in about 2 days, but i'll take it while I can :)

Trying to fein pumpkin patch enjoyment at a very disappointing pumpkin patch

Mike Wazowski, Halloween 2017

The blind strings, the best toy

The season opener this year was in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse. I couldn't have asked for a better "first college game" experience for Ezra. The Carrier Dome!? SWEET. He seriously l-o-v-e-d it. The game started AT bedtime, and is an hour and a half away from home, so I was worried that the travel and start time would lead to one grouchy baby. But, I couldn't have been more wrong. He slept in the car on the way down, like an angel. He braved the frigid cold walk to the stadium, like an angel. He sat wide eyed at all the lights, sounds and people, like an angel. He was happy and observant, like an angel. He gave grandma Meri kisses, like an angel. He nursed amidst all the distractions, like an angel. He flirted with cheerleaders and coaxed them to hand over their pom-poms, like an angel. Then he fell asleep in the carrier on the frigid walk back to the car, slept the whole way home, and went back down in his crib no problem, LIKE AN ANGEL. I couldn't have asked for a more well behaved baby. It was such a great first experience!! 


I realize that not all games this season will likely go like that, but I think when I look back on bringing my baby boy to his dad's basketball games, last night is the memory that will come to mind. It was a happy happy night.

I couldn't resist....

Sunday, October 15, 2017


-REALLY wants to move
-sleeping better at night (but not consistently through the night)
-had his second bout of sickness (Roseola)
-is focused
-has amazing concentration
-great dexterity, picks up food with just two fingers
-eating like a grown man
-went through a growth spurt, we think
-no sign of teeth, yet
-rolling like a pill bug in all directions
-wants to do all activities while standing, but can't stand unassisted yet
-trying to scoot
-started to babble! Says "dada" "mama" "baba" and with the occasional y, n, r, or h sound thrown in
-went to college
-stayed in a hotel for 1st time
-saw the ocean for 1st time
-went on a road trip 1st time
-no more swaddle
-likes to study your face/look deep into your eyes while being held or while being carried in the carrier
-started to recognize he can do things specifically to get attention/make people smile and laugh
-will do things specifically to ^
-likes to read books
-likes to people watch
-tends to be very quiet when other people are around, unless they are in our house (and even then)
-gives kisses
-nursing every 4 hours still
-makes a hilarious "crazy face"
-clingy this month, especially after nap time
-if you are sitting near him while he's playing, he wants to play with whatever it is while in your lap/arms i.e. how dare you not hold him if you are not occupied with a different task
-is okay playing alone if, and only if, he can see me doing something else that seems important (making dinner and cleaning are what fall into this category)
- "I want you to add: his dad loves him more and more every day" -Kyle
-loves to be outside
-loves to eat the car keys and remotes
-his favorite toys (that is actually his and not an adult object) are: chick-fi-a santa cow and a plush little star. Basically, any peluche (stuffed animal)

Ezra is getting ANTSY to move. He really wants to be more mobile than he is currently, but hasn't quite figured out the mechanics. When he is laying next to you on the bed he wants to crawl over your body again and again. He tries to climb when you hold him while sitting down. He wants to be held, but then flails and flings himself about. He is rolling like an old pro now from both back to tummy and tummy to back. He is doing better holding himself up on hands and knees, but eventually will fall to his side. He will go from sitting to hands and knees, but the forward momentum makes him fall forward onto his face. There is this one scoot type thing that seems to be his go to right now where he will roll himself onto his stomach, but not pull his arm out from under him, and then push his bum up in the air and scootch (sp?) his face and pinned arm side against the carpet until he inches forward. He has gotten better at this scoot attempt over the month and can move small distances in this manner. 

favorite jammies. 

Ezra attended his first college class. His first college class at an IvyLeague institution? Not to shabby. Kyle took him with him to class one afternoon so that I could get some studying done. The teacher even picked him up to walk him around the classroom at one point. He didn't mind until the teacher took him into a different room (apparently this classroom has multiple rooms?) and he couldn't see Kyle anymore--then he started to wail, until Kyle came and rescued him of course.

waiting for the bus on their way home

I know as a mother I think certain things are more amazing than other people, but I really do think he is so brilliant! It is so neat to watch him figure things out. For example, he will see a loose thread on a shirt and just lock onto it. Very focused. And then with just his thumb and finger he will reach forward and grasp at it until he can get it. He will find the tiny spec of dirt amongst all his toys on the ground and lock in on just that.

so pensive

Ezra can feed himself! He feeds himself most of his meals each day. We still feed him baby food (purees) by spoon, but he feeds himself the rest. He has eaten everything we've given him without complaint--except for those first bites of rice cereal, of course, he hated those. His favorite foods so far are greek yogurt and pears. This month has been amazing for me to watch this skill develop. He gets better every single day and I think it's remarkable. At the beginning of his 7th month he could barely pick food up and couldn't get it to his mouth unless it was by accident. As these weeks have progressed I've watched him figure something new out each day and refine his skills and it's the best part of being a parent.

A little comparison.....